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Discussing the EU’s Circular Economy Package
This was the second APSRG event on the EU’s Circular Economy Package. The first event, on 23rd March 2016, looked at the regulatory proposals made in the Package.
Monday’s event took a closer look at the Action Plan and systemic changes proposed in the Package. Scott Butler, Head of Product Development at the Landbell Group, kicked things off by saying that the circular economy will require all sectors of society – from consumers through to companies – to embrace new concepts and that the Action Plan should focus on providing the framework for competition and innovation to flourish. Scott also explained how Landbell is evolving to meet the challenges faced by its customers who want to do more than “comply” with legislation: they are seeking to review every aspect of their environmental and economic performance. Landbell now offers consultancy and software support, in addition to compliance, and the company has also created Green Alley, Europe’s first start-up competition for the circular economy.
Tom Robinson, founder of Adaptavate, the company which won last year’s Green Alley award, then described the enormous opportunities the circular economy offers new companies, but also outlined some of the difficulties they face: from securing funding to establishing a manufacturing base. Tom suggested consortia might be one solution to help start-ups punch above their weight.
The following speaker was Glen Mehn, partner at Bethnal Green Ventures (BGV), which also supports the Green Alley award. Glen described how his company helps start-ups to attain the scale and impact they need to achieve long-term success and offered examples of companies such as Fairphone and Open Utility which BGV has helped to establish.
Next up, Kirstie McIntyre described Hewlett-Packard’s new ink subscription service, Smart Ink, which is one of the ways HP is seeking to revolutionise the way companies and consumers print. Kirstie offered the acute observation that people want “printing, not printers” – a further example of how services, and not more traditional, product-based models, can drive the circular economy.
Finally, Professor Martin Charter, from the University for the Creative Arts, and Professor Doctor Raimund Bleischwitz, from University College London, offered their view on the Action Plan. Professor Charter covered everything from eco-design standards to repair cafés and emphasised we should be talking about the “end of lives” and not “end of life” when we refer to products. Professor Bleischwitz also spoke of how the Action Plan should be prioritising business models over policy and suggested that international partnerships might be the key to ensuring sustainable and long-term economic growth.
The event was chaired by Barry Sheerman, co-chair of APSRG and MP for Huddersfield. Mr Sheerman cited the way his constituency has embraced modern manufacturing techniques and offered to introduce Tom Robinson of Adaptavate to the successful manufacturing companies there: a perfect example of how the APSRG brings together parliamentarians, businesses and the sustainable resource community.
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